November 21, 2008

I picked up The Wal-Mart Effect (by Charles Fishman) at Barnes and Noble because it was on sale for $7. Besides, I like reading about how businesses transform the environment they begin in. With Wal-Mart, it’s on a whole new level. It’s so big it affects everyone, from its own suppliers to companies who choose not to partner with them, to consumers who make price assumptions based on Wal-Mart’s prices. Because of Wal-Mart’s reputation, I expected the author to have a strong bias against the company. Surprisingly, it started out almost more in favor of the corporation, noting its push to eliminate unnecessary packaging and making massive amounts of data available to its suppliers for analysis.

I feel like I did learn some interesting facts; mostly that there’s really very little known about the company because Wal-Mart is very guarded about interviews. Also, Wal-Mart does not provide sales data to help information aggregation companies determine annual sales and its low prices help keep our inflation rate low (although that’s very unclear to normal people).

And just by luck, Wal-Mart happened to be in the news today. Their CEO is stepping down in January and they have chosen their international chief to be the successor.


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